Global Warming and the Iraq War

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In 2006. the US spent more on the war in Iraq than the whole world spent on investment in renewable energy.

On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, an advance edition of a new report from Oil Change International, entitled A Climate of War (pdf) quantifies both the greenhouse gas emissions of the Iraq War and the opportunity costs involved in fighting war rather than climate change.

Here’s some of what it says:

  • Projected total US spending on the Iraq war could cover all of the global investments in renewable power generation that are needed between now and 2030 in order to halt current warming trends.
  • The war is responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) since March 2003. To put this in perspective, CO2 released by the war to date equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US this year.
  • Between March 2003 and October 2007 the US military in Iraq purchased more than 4 billion gallons of fuel from the Defense Energy Support Center, the agency responsible for procuring and supplying petroleum products to the Department of Defense. Burning these fuels has directly produced nearly 39 million metric tons of CO2 Just transporting 4 billion gallons of fuel to the military in Iraq consumed at least as much fuel as was delivered nearly doubling overall fuel-related emissions.
  • Emissions from the Iraq War to date are nearly two and a half times greater than what would be avoided between 2009 and 2016 were California to implement the auto emission regulations it has proposed, but that the Bush Administration has struck down.
  • If the war were ranked as a country in terms of annual emissions, it would emit more CO2 each year than 139 of the world’s nations do, more than 60% of all countries on the planet.
  • Just the $600 billion that Congress has allocated for military operations in Iraq to date could have built over 9000 wind farms (at 50 MW capacity each), with the overall capacity to meet a quarter of the country’s current electricity demand. If 25% of our power came from wind, rather than coal, it would reduce US GHG emissions by over 1 billion metric tons of CO2 per year – equivalent to approximately 1/6 of the country’s total CO2 emissions in 2006.
  • In 2006, the US spent more on the war in Iraq than the whole world spent on investment in renewable energy.
  • US presidential candidate Barack Obama has committed to spending “$150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of green energy technology and infrastructure.” The US spends nearly that much on the war in Iraq in just 10 months.

The emissions associated with the war in Iraq are literally unreported. Military emissions abroad are not captured in the national greenhouse gas inventories that all industrialized nations, including the United States, report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s a loophole big enough to drive a tank through.


  • Rick does have a point, however. I have scoured the internet for anything written post-October 2009 that updates the figures on GHG emissions from the Iraq War, and there’s nothing.

    It seems the liberal “left” abandoned the subject soon after a Democrat got into the White House.

  • lol. Oddly, no updates on these numbers since Obama got elected and quadrupled our involvement in Afghanistan and started yet another environmentally unfriendly war in Libya. I guess war is worth the environmental impact when it’s waged by a democrat.

    • Rick, if you or anyone else would care to do the research and submit it we would be more than pleased to post an update. We strongly oppose the war policies of the U.S. and other imperialist countries, no matter who happens to sit in the chief executive’s chair.

  • the raw materials to make wind power are all located overseas, we’ve missed the chance due to mis-spent funds on citizen surveillance and 2 bogus wars

  • It’s About Time !! that this subject started being covered. Al Bore NEVER mentions the insane amount of unnecessary, man-made pollution being generated by the 5+ years of U.S. illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Whenever an article applears on the Internet by these global-climate-tax-mongerers, every reader of this post should comment on this silent connection between the faux global-warming cultism and the (unfortunately) non-faux reality of perpetual war and resulting pollution created by the U.S.’s obscene ‘foreign policy.’

  • Greenpeace UK’s main campaign has been about banning the light bulb, yes greenIDIOTpeace UK is the most pathetic moronic group ever invented. When I wrote to them that many people including me have a problem with flourescents and that these have been shown to cause health problems they told me to see a doctor and use candles!! — in fact, they added, they would prefer it if people used no lighting at all!! Of course don’t ever talk to them about the war they will SHREIK and tell you you must be into the protocols of zion. How dare you mention the war, for it is a holy war.. Hmmm…

    GreenINSANEpeaceUK you are so very very stupid.

  • These facts help to give a useful perspective on ‘everyday’ activities, such as war, in the context of global warming.

    It would be useful to have a similar breakdown on other ‘everyday’ activities such as logging, air transport, shipping and road freight, and their effects on global warming.

    Along the same lines, it would be nice to know what is happening to the oxygen content of the atmosphere, since the oxidation of hydrocarbons requires quite a lot of atmospheric oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

    Most of us have little idea of the relative effects of such ‘everyday’ activities and cannot trust the MSM to give an unbiased account.